Vikings still one of the teams to beat |

Vikings still one of the teams to beat

Jeremy Evans

Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily Tribune South Tahoe High School varsity soccer coach Chris DeLeon, right, begins his second season with aspirations of continuing the Vikings' successful program.

Over the past three years, there isn’t a single team in the Northern 4A with the resume of the South Tahoe boys’ soccer team.

Since 2002, the Vikings are 61-3-4. They have won the past three Sierra Division titles. They reached the state semifinals in 2002 and won state in 2003. They have also been ranked as high as No. 12 nationally.

But over the past three years, no other team in the Northern 4A has been hurt by graduation like South Tahoe. The Vikings have lost 26 seniors the past two seasons, but their success hasn’t stopped.

Second-year coach Chris DeLeon expects the same scenario to develop this season.

“That’s always the challenge for every coach,” said DeLeon, who led the Vikings to an 18-2-1 record in 2004. “You want to turn out winning teams every year. I expect us to be a very good team by the end of the year.”

Even though the Vikings lost 13 seniors off last year’s team, including arguably the top defender, midfielder and forward in the Sierra Division, don’t expect pity from the other coaches. Once again, South Tahoe will rely on a senior-dominated roster loaded with experience as well as unknown talent.

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P.J. Bacon and Jamie Estrada are both returning all-league midfielders who should fill the void left by Darren Perucci, a first-team all-league midfielder who graduated.

“We’re a lot smaller this year, but I think we have the same talent as always,” Bacon said. “I think we’re still the team to beat. We’re going to have a target on our forehead. Every team is going to get better as the year goes on, and I think we will, too. But hopefully we’ll come out fast.”

The Vikings start the 2005 season on Friday and Saturday in a preseason tournament hosted by Galena. Their official season opener is next Wednesday against Galena in Reno.

DeLeon will use this weekend’s tournament as a way to gauge several players’ potential to fill other vacancies caused by graduation.

On defense, the Vikings will need to find a suitable replacement for Jason Debacker, who emerged as one of the region’s top defenders last year. That role appears available for Ismael Mora, who was recently named defender of the year in the Lake Tahoe Adult Soccer League.

Offensively, Corey Vermillion was the 2004 Sierra Division Offensive Player of the Year but graduated. DeLeon, however, has the benefit of three senior newcomers who didn’t play last year because of eligibility issues.

Ernesto Mosqueda, Milton Montoya and Eric Sandoval are all expected to play big roles this season. Montoya starts the season as South Tahoe’s biggest offensive threat. Although he hasn’t played high school soccer since his freshman year, his teammates believe he has the chance to be the region’s top scorer.

“They’re all going to fill some key holes on offense,” DeLeon said. “They are all attacking players. Milton should be a good player for us. I think we’ll surprise some teams this year, just because none of these other teams have seen the players we’re going to have out there.”

South Tahoe may be excited about its prospects, but Carson looks to be the front-runner heading into the season. The Senators return eight starters, including three first-team all-league offensive players from last year’s team that won the Northern 4A championship and lost 2-1 to Centennial in the state semifinals.

DeLeon agrees Carson is the team to beat, but his players view it a different way.

“Carson is a going to be good, but I think we’re still the team to beat,” Estrada said. “Everyone wants to beat us. We lost a lot of people but have a lot of new guys who are going to have good seasons.”

South Tahoe Vikings

2005 Schedule

Date Opponent Time

Friday Galena Tournament TBA

Aug. 31 Galena 3 p.m.

Sept. 7 Fallon 3 p.m.

Sept. 10 Damonte 3 p.m.

Sept. 14 Reno 3 p.m.

Sept. 17 Wooster 3 p.m.

Sept. 21 Douglas 3 p.m.

Sept. 24 Carson 3 p.m.

Sept. 26 North Tahoe 3:30 p.m.

Sept. 28 North Valleys 3 p.m.

Oct. 1 Hug 3 p.m.

Oct. 5 Damonte 3 p.m.

Oct. 8 Reno 3 p.m.

Oct. 10 North Tahoe 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 12 Wooster 3 p.m.

Oct. 15 Douglas 3 p.m.

Oct. 19 Carson 3 p.m.

Oct. 22 North Valleys 3 p.m.

Oct. 24 Hug 3 p.m.

Oct. 29 Northern 4A playoffs TBA

Nov. 11 Nevada 4A playoffs TBA

Note: Home games are in bold.

South Tahoe Vikings

Coach: Chris DeLeon, second year

Last year: 18-2-1, Sierra Division champ.

What’s at stake in 2005: South Tahoe’s string of three consecutive Sierra Division titles could be threatened by Carson.

Opener: Friday at the Galena Tournament in Reno.